Many believers, if they are asked “Are you a saint or sinner?” will respond with ‘sinner.’ This answer reveals they do not fully understand the purpose of Yeshua’s sacrifice and deliverance from sin. If you are a believer in Yeshua, you have been born again into the Kingdom of God and you must understand your identity to reach the full potential God has for you in this life.
“Everyone who sins breaks the law (God’s commands); in fact sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
The apostle John defines sin as breaking God’s commandments. A sinner is a person who consistently breaks God’s commands by doing what they think is right and wrong ultimately rebelling against God. In essence, a sinner is a disobedient, rebellious person who lives their life completely apart from the rules of God and lives a lawless life.
“For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners …” (Romans 5:19).
Disobedience is common to all humanity. It began in the Garden of Eden when Adam chose to disobey God’s one command and ate of the fruit from the tree in the center of the garden. His disobedience birthed sin into the hearts of all of his human offspring until this very day.
“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning…” (1 John 3:8).
A sinner has not come to terms with the existence of God nor will they accept that there is a standard or plumb line set up for right and wrong by the Creator of the Universe. They make their own rules even if their choices cause them to die in this life and the life to come.
“But rebels and sinners will both be broken and those who forsake Adonai will perish” (Isaiah 1:28).
Sinners have not been set free from an empty way of life. They have holes in their souls, pain in their hearts, and confusion in their minds. They have no future, no hope in this world or in the world to come. They are rebellious, disobedient, lawless and reject any and every concept of living rightly before God, being righteous. Those steeped in their love of sin will even mock God and His ways before submitting to His commands that may actually benefit their lives and bring peace to their hearts, minds, and souls.
“But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked” (Psalm 37:38).
Wickedness in the Bible is defined as ‘lawless’ as well as ‘sinful.’ Sinners have stubborn hearts and turn away from their Creator willfully choosing a life of lawlessness completely disregarding the idea of sin and separation from God. Those who are sinful and wicked have no desire to repent and turn back to God because they wholeheartedly embrace every activity that embodies lawlessness.
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).
It is possible for a believer to harden their heart toward God (and His commandments, Torah) and turn away from Him. The doctrines of lawlessness, not being ‘under’ God’s laws or ‘responsible to His laws, has left many who are redeemed standing in the muck of ungodliness, abomination, and sin. It is wise to remember that anyone who teaches against the Torah of God is really from the lawless one, the anti-messiah, the ole devil himself.
“For already this separating from Torah is at work secretly, but it will be secretly only until he who is restraining is out of the way. Then the one who embodies separation from Torah will be revealed, the one whom the Lord Yeshua will slay with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the glory of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
In order to leave a life of sin, a person must repent. ‘Repent’ in Hebrew is teshuvah and means ‘to make a 180-degree turn.’ It is like someone making a U-turn in order to return to where they came from. The prophets cried out for Israel to repent. John immersed people in the Jordan River for repentance of sins. When Yeshua came down the mountain from the wilderness, he began preaching message of repentance and returning to God. Even after the resurrection, the apostles preached a message of repentance in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
“From that time on, Yeshua began proclaiming, “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” (Matthew 4:17).
The astounding part about repentance is that all previous sin is forgiven – ALL. All future sin only needs to be confessed and then it is also forgiven. Sinners do not remain sinners, but with a U-turn change of direction, a change of heart, they being to become forgiven and set on a path of being sanctified or saints.
“Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased” (Acts 3:19).
A sinner who repents is changed from the inside out. They become a new creation in Messiah, are reconciled to the Father, and begin a new walk of life. Their old sinful, rebellious, lawless life passes away; a new life of love, joy, and peace becomes the new reality (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new life should be very different from the old because the darkness and ignorance of sin has been removed. Drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality will suddenly become uncomfortable. Anger, jealousy, and coveting will become a spiritual burden to the soul. As an individual’s spiritual eyes open to the difference between the ways of the world and the ways of the Creator, they will begin to see the world in which they live in conflict with the Spirit of God that has come to be their guide and counselor.
“For if, while we were God’s enemies (sinners), we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!’ (Romans 5:10).
As the Spirit of God moves and works in the new life, there will be conviction when sin present and a desire to be cleansed from that sin. Each time we turn from sin, we are transformed more profoundly into the image of Yeshua. As we learn to obey God’s Torah and see what pleases Him, a desire to remove those things that do not please Him should become part of our walk of sanctification; those who live out their lives in this process are called saints.
‘Saint’ comes from the Greek word ‘sanctify’ and is the same word as ‘holy’ or hagios. According to the dictionary, the word ‘holy’ means ‘set apart to the service of God.’ To be ‘holy to God’ means that as a new creation in Messiah, a person becomes set apart for the purpose of serving and obeying God. One who is being sanctified no longer lives for their carnal, sinful, lawless desires, but for God.
In a strange twist, some teach that saints are dead people who can still perform miracles. This misconstrued concept comes from the catholic church and doesn’t have merit in the Scriptures. Read the following verses and decide if a saint is dead or alive.
“As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16:3).
“O fear the LORD, you His saints; for those who fear Him there is no want” (Psalm 34:9).
“Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom and all the dominions will serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:27).
“Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among the gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you are the called of Messiah Yeshua; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Messiah Yeshua” (Romans 1:5-7).
“All the saints greet you” (2 Corinthians 13:13).
“Greet all of your leaders and all the saints …” (Hebrews 13:24).
“Paul, an apostle of Messiah Yeshua by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Messiah Yeshua …” (Ephesians 1:1).
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Messiah Yeshua, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Messiah Yeshua …” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
“Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Messiah Yeshua, to all the saints in Messiah Yeshua who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons … “ (Philippians 1:1).
“To the saints and faithful brothers in Messiah who are at Colossae …” (Colossians 1:2).
“And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, when up before God out of the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:4).
“The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53).
Saints are majestic. They fear God and greet one another. They are loved by God, faithful to God, pray to God and are quite capable of reading letters sent to them from Paul. Saints are most definitely not dead, but living, breathing human beings. Each born again person begins their redeemed life as a saint; they live out their earthly lives as saints and remain saints even after they ‘fall asleep.’ Saints will be resurrected as saints.
“No one who has God as his Father keeps on sinning, because the seed [Holy Spirit] planted by God remains in him. That is, he cannot continue sinning, because he has God as his Father” (1 John 3:9).
Some people believe they are not good enough to be saints. This means they do not understand the power of the Spirit of God to transform their heart and soul. They spend their days constantly seeking forgiveness from the power of sin rather than living victorious lives over the ‘death of sin.’ In Messiah, we are set free from sin and should not keep on sinning (1 John 3:6, 9). Read 1 John again and again. With the Spirit of the Living God planted in us, we cannot continue sinning! How often have you heard that message taught?
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags …” (Isaiah 64:6).
This verse is often quoted by well-meaning people to support the ‘sinner’ identity. Though this verse is true, it was not written for saints. When read in context, it is about Israel and Jerusalem, not individual people who have been redeemed by the blood of Messiah. However, if one wants to use it for their personal identity, the rest of the verse says, “we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Sins that sweep us away should never have a place in a life that has been redeemed by the blood of God’s own Son. Being swept away by sin is the futility and future of the lawless, wicked sinner. Our sins should not be ‘sweeping us away’ if we are a new creation. This is not the description of a saint who is being sanctified by the very ‘breath of God’ that raised Yeshua from the dead. This is not the identity of anyone who has been given a new heart on which are written God Torah making them set apart or ‘holy’ to Him.
“Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness…. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness…. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness” (Romans 6:13, 18-19).
Yeshua’s standard of righteousness is now our standard. The ‘works’ of a redeemed man are not the filthy rags of a sinner trying to hide their sin with deceptive fig leaves. Sanctifying ‘works’ lead us down the path of righteousness and bring glory to God. We are no longer slaves to impurity and increasing wickedness, but become ‘slaves’ to a righteous way of living that leads to holiness which, according to Yeshua, comes through the Word of Truth (John 17:17).
“Set them apart for holiness by means of the truth — your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Even as saints we will fall short, miss the mark and sin. When we ‘miss the mark,’ we are not lost for all eternity nor do not have to repent from a wicked way of life. Our only responsibility is to confess the sin of which we have been convicted. God is faithful to cleanse us and purify us from ALL unrighteousness and restore us.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Our identity as saints is foundational to our testimony as believers and followers of Messiah Yeshua. As saints, we receive spiritual blessings and live in God’s household. As saints, we receive the revelation of mysteries from past ages and generations. As saints, we will return in glory with our Commander-in-Chief, Yeshua. As saints, we will judge the world as priests with our High Priest, Yeshua. As saints we will have a special place as the Bride next to the Bridegroom at the wedding feast in the Kingdom.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Messiah Yeshua, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Messiah. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy (sanctified) and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:3-4).
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2).
“So that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make know what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles …” (Colossians 1:26-27).
“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy (sanctified) in the presence of our god and Father when our Lord Yeshua comes with all his holy ones (sanctified ones)” (1 Thessalonians 3:13).
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them ‘See the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones (sanctified ones)” (Jude 1:14).
These Scriptures give only a glimpse of what is promised to the saints of God. If you have been born again into the Kingdom and washed clean in the blood of the Lamb, you are a saint –– sanctified, holy and ‘set apart’ to bring glory to God. Embracing the lifestyle of a saint and the sanctifying work of the Word of God makes us more holy, more separated to Him, and gives us an identity and destiny completely different from a sinner.
Again, the question: Are you a saint or a sinner?
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